Alan Pardew wants Crystal Palace to rediscover a winning feeling in the Premier League against Stoke City on Saturday.
Palace have the FA Cup final against Manchester United on the horizon but are not yet mathematically safe from relegation, lying seven points ahead of Sunderland with the third bottom side still having three matches to play.
The Eagles’ impressive run to Wembley has not been matched in the league during 2016 – they have managed just a solitary win since beating Stoke 2-1 on December 19.
Palace have scored one goal and collected two points in four winless games since beating Norwich City 1-0 a month ago, and their efforts in front of goal will not be aided by Wilfried Zaha nursing a muscle strain and fellow winger Yannick Bolasie being struck down by illness.
“We need to get a win in the league, so our priority is Stoke really,” Pardew said, reflecting on the prospect of getting Zaha fully fit to face United in this month’s Wembley showpiece.
“We are trying to go into that game [Stoke] with our full force, like we did last weekend [a 1-0 loss at Newcastle United].
“Wilf still has a slight problem which I think is going to keep him out for this game and Southampton. Hopefully he’ll be fine for the final, if selected.
“Bolasie has a little bit of a problem. He’s sick. So we’re going to have to wait on him.”
Pardew – who fined midfielder Lee Chung-yong this week for comments made about his management style in an interview published in South Korea – revealed captain Mile Jedinak is doubtful for the Selhurst Park encounter due to a knock.
Jermain Defoe’s last-gasp penalty at Britannia Stadium gave Sunderland a 1-1 draw last weekend, although Mark Hughes’ men were at least able to stop the rot of three straight losses, conceding four goals on each occasion.
Full-back Glen Johnson is back in training following a long-term knee injury lay-off but the game comes too soon for him, while Hughes is hopeful forward Bojan Krkic will recover from a blow to the foot.
“Glen has trained for a week. He isn’t ready to play yet but we are hopeful that he will be available for selection next weekend,” the Stoke boss told a pre-match news conference.
“That will enable him to have gained two weeks of training, which will get him up to speed and make him an option for the West Ham game.
“When you see him back in training, you see the quality he has on the ball. That’s no disrespect to any player that has filled in, but his technical ability and prowess to go forward has been missed more than we probably initially felt.”
Key Opta stats
– Crystal Palace have won four and lost none of their last five matches in all competitions against Stoke.
– Stoke have gone nine games on the road without a Premier League clean sheet, conceding 22 goals during this period.
– Palace have one win in their previous nine attempts at Selhurst Park (D2 L6) and have scored six in the last 10 Premier League outings on home soil.
– Alan Pardew’s side has eight points in 2016 – the joint lowest in the top flight along with already relegated Aston Villa.
– Marko Arnautovic has 11 Premier League goals this season, an equal Premier League best for Stoke alongside Mame Biram Diouf last term and Ricardo Fuller in 2008-09.
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